UNEARTHING THE UNRECORDED: MEMORY, HISTORY AND URBAN ERASURE IN BRIXTON

01 June - 30 June



In 2015, the independent businesses in the railway arches of Brixton Station were served eviction notices. After decades of neglect by their corporate landlord, Network Rail, they were forced to abandon their livelihoods so their spaces could be refurbished. Working with community members in Brixton, London, our work merges spatial practice and oral history through historic preservation to understand the power structures at play as well as what is lost when community spaces fall victim to government-backed regeneration projects. We set out to map and preserve the history of the inhabitants of the affected space over the last 150 years. However, what we discovered was that the market in the Brixton Arches has existed largely within an official void. Not only is none of its history centrally stored or preserved, it has also not been consistently documented by Lambeth Council or the local archives; there is not even an exhaustive list of businesses registered to the arches over this time. Through codifying alternative community histories, our fieldwork aims to unpack the tensions and shift power dynamics between what is considered worth preserving by the state (heritage) versus the personal experience and life stories of a place.


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Image: Illustration by Linda Zhang

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